On the 88s.

Our house is two doors from the school bus stop, which, this year, has 21 kids from the surrounding couple of blocks gathering there for the 8:02. Twenty-one! Kate is in hog heaven — finally, in with the in crowd. After they all got on today and the bus rumbled away, we adults stood around looking at one another for a few minutes, stunned. Then we raised a big cheer, and suggested meeting for at least one round of Irish coffees. Of course we didn’t, but we should’ve.

Then I went out and bought … a piano! Kate is taking “keyboard” this year, which means she has to have a practice instrument. I always wanted her to have a real piano, and I know you can always buy someone’s old upright for a few hundred bucks if you watch the classifieds closely. But Alan pointed out a few things, and of those things I only need to repeat one: A piano is a piece of furniture weighing approximately as much as a dump truck. Plus, you have to have it tuned and so on and blah blah, and, ninja shopper that he is, he’d already researched the alternatives and found some very nice virtual pianos for the same price as a used upright. I was dubious. I shouldn’t have been.

Technology, she is so amazing. Once you get past the spring-loaded plastic keys with bossa nova rhythm tracks available at the very low end of the market, the vistas open up into some very cool stuff. We ended up with an 88-key marvel that feels exactly like a real piano, sounds exactly like a real piano and weighs about as much as a piano bench. Because it’s digital, it also sounds like a real harpsichord, string section, pipe organ, etc., so we had some fun after setting it up, playing “Some Day My Prince Will Come” (installed in its memory) on the vibes. “It’s Lionel Hampton!” Alan crowed.

Now that we have the instrument, I’m going to take lessons, too. Although I know it will be slow going. When Alan turned on the device’s metronome, I wondered why it went chirp-tock-tock-tock-chirp-tock-tock-tock. “That’s the beat,” he said. Oh. Mr. Know-it-All. If only he had spoken the language of Prince, I would have understood perfectly: “All the white people clap your hands on the four now — one, two, three, (clap), one, two, three, (clap).”

I still think I need more musical training.

Feeling 3/4 of the way to health. More tomorrow.

Posted at 1:45 am in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “On the 88s.”

  1. joe said on August 24, 2004 at 11:00 am


    Try Dave Latchaw,

    He gave lessons to my oldest daughter for 3 years, the guy is amazing.


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  2. deb said on August 24, 2004 at 11:28 am

    good for you! keep us posted on how the lessons go.

    i only wish i’d had alan to advise me when i bought my ten-ton kawai console back in 1984. it’s been moved five times now, and every move fills me with dread. the worst was right after i bought it, when the movers got it stuck on the turn in the staircase up to my second-floor flat. i think i smoked an entire pack of cigarettes while they wrestled with it.

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  3. KCK said on August 24, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    I’m not a piano player exactly but I have a 61 key Yamaha which is good enough for my use (I play guitar and bass) The various emulations in the Yamaha are just amazing, I particularly like the “breathy tenor sax”

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  4. Nance said on August 24, 2004 at 5:46 pm

    Your piano is beautiful, Deb, and hey, in 1984, my piano didn’t exist. That’s one thing about technology: You just don’t see this keyboard being passed down through the generations. On the other hand, I also remember how Vladimir Horowitz got his Steinway concert grand into his NYC apartment — with a crane.

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  5. Linda said on August 24, 2004 at 6:06 pm

    “All the white people clap your hands…”

    OMG! LOL ! I’m rolling….

    I’m glad you’re thinking of taking lessons too, Nancy. I wish more adults could believe they are not too old. I was one of those kids who was forced as a child to take piano lessons because it was my mother who really wanted to play. I’m not saying that is the case with your Kate, not at all, but I still have bitter memories of grade school and looking around at my classmates and thinking, “gee, how nice it must be to be able to go home from school today and NOT have to practise the piano”. I had no natural talent at all and only ever learned to play AT the piano. I used to get so nervous when I was forced to play in front of people that the music on the song sheets would just be a blur. Whenever I hear grown adults say “I’ve always wished I could play the piano”, I just want to scream “Just do it!”

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  6. Nance said on August 24, 2004 at 8:23 pm

    Actually, Linda, I think that’s a valid point, and it’s one I’ve struggled with — when to push. I envy my neighbor Deb, whose daughter showed artistic talent at age 2, and today, with some Saturday lessons, paints and draws at a level far beyond what I can even dream of. And she’s 9. I keep watching for Kate’s talents to emerge, and they are — her first-grade teacher said she’s a natural writer, huh, go figure — but at the same time, I figure you have to be exposed. Alan took piano and trumpet as a kid, and though he no longer plays, he hears music with far more sophisticated ears than I do. Whether Kate plays with pleasure or not, I want at least that much for her.

    (And this may be a lost cause, too: When her friend Sophia was visiting one time, Alan put on a Louis Armstrong CD. Sophia ran into the kitchen and said, “What’s this music?” She cocked her head and listened hard for a few minutes before going back to play. Kate has never done this, and I think that’s the difference between a natural ear and the lack thereof.)

    That said, I wish my mom had made me take ballet. I wouldn’t be such a klutz on the dance floor.

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  7. deb said on August 25, 2004 at 1:51 pm

    you’re right, nance, about at least getting kate a deeper appreciation of music. i tried to read a very wonky book a while back — can’t remember the title — that cited studies proving people with musical training even have a different physiological reaction to music. they really do experience it differently, and that never goes away.

    to this day, whenever i hear the national anthem, i hear (and hum) the bass clarinet part, because that’s the band instrument i played the most throughout high school. i know a guy who’s a drummer, and when he listens to rock music, he’s always picking out the drum riffs, something his non-musical wife has trouble clearly distinguishing.

    so i say go for it. if she starts crying whenever she’s supposed to practice, then it’s time to back off. even if she doesn’t stick with lessons over the long haul, though, she’ll pick up a lot just from having that keyboard (and all its bells and whistles) at her disposal.

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  8. Camilla said on August 25, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    Also, do you have something similar to the Baby Proms in your area? If you can find a music appreciation program for kids, your daughter might really enjoy it, and develop an ear for music.

    Similarly to Deb, I can pick out the cello and french horn parts in music through having played the cello and listened to my friend playing the french horn (also through taking part in an orchestra – now *there* is an amazing experience! Musical synergy = delicious).

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